Jeep Plug-In Hybrid SUVs & Grand Wagoneer Concept

Jeff S. Bartlett
·5 min read

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

Jeep has unveiled new production hybrid versions of the CompassRenegade, and Wrangler. In an online press event, it also pulled the cover off the Grand Wagoneer concept, portending a full-sized SUV coming to market next year.

Common threads among these vehicles are plug-in hybrid powertrains and the launch of the 4xe designation. Officials underscored that they are dedicated to making Jeep a “green” brand, with electrified variations to be offered for each model in the future, in addition to conventional versions.

The Jeep Renegade 4xe and Compass 4xe deliver up to 240 horsepower and promise 31 miles of electric-only range. The vehicles were teased at last year’s Geneva Motor Show, and they went on sale in Europe this summer. Jeep hasn’t committed to introducing them in the U.S., but when asked, a spokesman reiterated the brand’s pledge to electrification.  

Jeep Wrangler 4xe

The four-door Wrangler 4xe will be on sale here by the end of the year, adding yet another powertrain choice to the already lengthy options list. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is augmented with two electric motors and a 400-volt, 17-kWh battery pack. It uses an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The total peak output is 375 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque—huge numbers for a small engine. Jeep claims it can run 0 to 60 mph in about 6 seconds and has an electric-only range of 25 miles. The charge port is located on the left front cowl.

There are three driver-selectable modes: Hybrid, Electric, and eSave. In Hybrid mode, the electric energy is used first, then the gasoline engine kicks in. eSave works the opposite way, starting off with gasoline power, then allowing the electric energy to be saved to use later, such as on a trail. (Top-down, near-silent running through nature does sound alluring.) As is the case with other plug-in vehicles, there is a screen to help coach the driver on using the energy most efficiently.

These modes are all available in 4Lo, the four-wheel-drive low gear, enabling the Wrangler to benefit from the prodigious, smooth power when off-roading. Jeep claims this hybrid will have the same trail-traversing and 30-inch water-fording capability as regular Wranglers, noting that the electric system is sealed and waterproof.

The plug-in powertrain will be available on 4xe, Sahara 4xe, and Rubicon 4xe trims. 

Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept

The newly unveiled Grand Wagoneer concept is a preview of the upcoming Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, and offers a glimpse at the potential for a high-end interior.

The original Wagoneer debuted as a 1963 model, and evolved into the Grand Wagoneer SUV that left the market with the 1991 model year. It was the first SUV that combined four-wheel drive with an automatic transmission, ushering in the “modern SUV” era. Since then, the Jeep Commander filled a similar place in the lineup from 2006 to 2010, but there has been a significant gap in the portfolio for the past decade as American drivers increasingly moved to SUVs.

The return of the Wagoneer will give the brand a model to position above the Grand Cherokee and to compete with the full-sized models from Ford and General Motors. It will be based on the Ram pickup truck, but it will have an independent rear suspension like its domestic competitors.

The new design nods at the original, with rather flat sides, simple window designs, and a front fascia that slants forward. The wheel arches and grille borrow from current models for a familial connection. It's the interior that really shines.

Jeep officials underscore that the concept is a premium SUV, and this is readily apparent in the opulent, screen-filled interior. There is a 12.3-inch screen for the instrument panel, a center 12-inch screen for the next-generation Uconnect 5 infotainment system, and a 10-inch screen below that for cabin adjustments. But what makes the dash so striking is the touch screen for the front passenger. This is described as a co-pilot screen that allows the passenger to help with certain functions on the go—or watch videos. When parked, the Grand Wagoneer concept can be put into a “Relax” mode, with a simulated Aurora Borealis animated across the row of front screens. Or a family could watch a movie.

Second-row passengers likewise have 10-inch screens available for entertainment.

A spacious third row would bring seating capacity to seven.

The 23-speaker audio system was designed by McIntosh, a company better known for premium home systems. The trim materials throughout give the cabin an upscale appearance. All told, the cabin looks quite attractive and expensive, but it isn’t clear how much of this is meant to go into production.

The concept uses a plug-in hybrid powertrain. This is in accordance with the brand’s goal to offer electrification options for all models over the next few years.

We do know that the production Grand Wagoneer will be offered with three 4x4 systems, but few other details are known.

Key specifications—including dimensions, powertrain, and safety features—were not disclosed.

We will learn more in the countdown to production, which will happen in Detroit next year.  



More from Consumer Reports:
Top pick tires for 2016
Best used cars for $25,000 and less
7 best mattresses for couples

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2020, Consumer Reports, Inc.